Delacroix finished his letter by saying “It has restored my good spirits”.
The subject was contemporary, some say that the man in the bowler hat to Liberty’s right is Delacroix himself, also the image is romanticised with the heroin elevated on some structure.
It was upon this, and the artist vision of Liberty, that the Statue of Liberty is based, the famous landmark in New York, having been a gift from France to America.
And there is a classical illusion too. The spiralling drapery wrapping Liberty, is a reference to the famous Hellenistic sculpture, the Nike of Samathrace, which also serves to give the picture its powerful pro democracy political message. Delacroix, of course would have been fully aware that the concept of democracy was of Ancient Greek origin.
The po face Academy accepted the picture, ignoring one assumes, Delacroix’s subversive treatment of liberty. Instead of depicting her body with classically clean lines, he added great tufts of underarm hair, a touch of truthful representation.
Liberty Leading the People is a virtuoso display of modern painting techniques, with it’s vivid colors, attention to light and brisk brushstrokes, all of which would be central elements of the Impressionism movement some 40 years later.
But Delacroix’s painting was fictional scene, whereas the Impressionists were in search of the truth and nothing but the truth.
Much thanks to Will Gompertz’s book What Are You Looking At….some of the blog is directly taken from this fantastic book.